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Saturday 25 November 2017

GSOC in late objection to documents request

Garda Siochana Ombudsman chairman Simon O'Brien
Garda Siochana Ombudsman chairman Simon O'Brien

Tom Brady Security Editor

TWELVE minutes before he was due to finalise his report Sean Guerin received a legal letter from the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission.

GSOC wanted certain safeguards to be put in place before it would hand over documentation sought by Mr Guerin.

However, the tight deadline for the completion of the report meant that Mr Guerin never received any input from GSOC.

In his report, Mr Guerin sharply criticised the failure of GSOC to hand over the relevant information.

He said the absence of the imaterial had been an obstacle to his attempt to assess the adequacy of the investigations conducted by GSOC.

Mr Guerin said that on March 13 last, the GSOC chairman Simon O'Brien had written to him indicating that the process of gathering the relevant material was under way as a priority.

Thirteen days later a reminder was sent to GSOC, noting the very limited timeframe for the review.

GSOC wrote back on April 2 and said the relevant material had been identified and, subject to approval by GSOC, would be forwarded in due course.

A further reminder of the request for documents and of the very limited timeframe to review them, was sent to GSOC on April 10.

Late on April 23, 12 minutes before his deadline, he received a letter from Arthur Cox, solicitors, on behalf of GSOC, raising legal and practical issues.

Although the letter expressed an eagerness to co-operate, he had not seen any documents.

"I do not understand why the obstacles to my seeing them were first identified to me in correspondence delivered shortly before close of business on the eve of the date upon which my report was due," Mr Guerin said.

"Even if GSOC's concerns could have been immediately overcome, there was no practical reality to voluminous documentation being reviewed at that late stage", the investigator added.

Last night GSOC said that while it was aware of the tight timescale, it did not know of an exact fixed deadline date.

GSOC said it was regrettable that Mr Guerin's inquiry did not have sight of their documentation.

Irish Independent

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